Low-rates-what-does-this-mean-for-you?

Low rates – what does this mean for you?

The RBA decided to once again leave interest rates on hold at 0.1% at its recent March meeting, which means yet another month at the lowest interest rates ever.

In fact, if you have been paying off a mortgage at any stage over the past few years, you have been doing so in a historically low interest rate environment.

The RBA does this to stimulate the economy. The lower the interest rates are, the less money you spend on your debt, which means you have more to spend elsewhere. This extra spending helps prop up the economy.

But how you put that money to use is up to you. Recent research has shown the pandemic changed many of our spending habits, with Australian households saving an estimated extra $120 billion between April and December last year, due to restrictions on travel, hospitality and more. We seem to be more cautious about spending on material goods and luxuries and now choose to funnel extra cashflow back into our homes.

First things first

In order to take advantage of low interest rates, you need to make sure you’re paying the lowest that you can be.

Get online and check out loan comparison websites to see what else is out there. If there are better deals, you can consider refinancing with another lender; or, if you don’t want to leave your current bank, give them a call and ask them to match the better rate.

It’s a competitive market for lenders and they are keen to retain customers, so banks will often grant you a better deal if you pick up the phone and make them think you are ready to take your debt elsewhere.

Pay your own mortgage off sooner?

Now that you’re happy with your interest rate, where to next? One option is to keep making the same mortgage repayments, or even increase them and pay down your mortgage as soon as you can. Traditionally, people would want to pay their house off ASAP. Paying a bit extra when you can manage can shave years off your repayment term and save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. You own your own house and any money that comes in. But is that still the best option?

Conditions have changed

Paying off your house early used to be beneficial when interest rates were much higher. For example, when banks were offering an average of around 7% on standard variable products, the accumulative effect of compound interest meant you would end up paying more than the purchase price of the property in interest alone over a 30-year loan term.

Now though, it’s a different story. You can get much better returns by focusing on acquiring new, quality debt rather than paying off existing debt which is attracting very small interest. Investing in property with plenty of upside for growth and good rental return can be a great way to take advantage of low interest rates.

Make lower repayments?

An option is to make lower repayments on your mortgage and free up more cash for your day to day life. That extra cash could be used to pay for something you need, or again, to invest in shares or property.

Making minimum repayments on your owner-occupier mortgage will free up even more cash to leverage into as much quality debt as you can manage.

You might use that cashflow to acquire multiple investment properties, which pay a rental income and appreciate in value throughout the rest of your own mortgage term.

Then, later down the track, you have the option to sell off some of your assets and use the capital gains to pay off your remaining debt, while keeping remaining properties for further income and equity. Or, simply keep holding the assets and benefiting from their growth and returns for as long as possible.

 

 

Package-loans-VS-basic-loans-under-variable-rates

Package Loans VS Basic Loans Under Variable Rates

The mortgage market is full of options as lenders try to attract business in a competitive landscape.
Getting advice from a mortgage broker can be a great way to get an idea of what type of home loan will suit your situation, but it’s also good to educate yourself on the types of products that are out there.
Let’s take a look at two main categories when considering a home loan product: package loans versus basic loans.

Do good things come in packages?

Package loans have become very popular in recent years and account for more than 50% of loans written by major lenders.
Package loans usually combine your home loan with other common financial products, which may include a mortgage offset account, transaction or savings account and credit card. They are eligible for interest rate discounts off the standard variable rate, fee waivers on loan approval and valuation fees.

Basic home loans are not packaged with anything. They are ‘no-frills’ loans where you save money on upfront and ongoing fees, because you don’t have the flexible features that cost more to administer but often allow you to save much more money long term.

What a fee-ling

In return for packaging products, lenders will make it worth your while by charging one annual fee for multiple loans, rather than separate fees for each product.
If considering a package loan, find out whether that one annual fee includes the other home loan fees you may not know about, such as an application fee, property valuation fees, redraw fees, switching fee (from variable to fixed and vice versa) and offset account keeping fees. Other fees to be aware of are the application or establishment fee, bank solicitor fee and settlement fee, when setting up your home loan.
These can vary in price, but average between $150 and $700. They are usually nonrefundable but major banks are often happy to waive these fees, so make sure you ask ahead or negotiate, as this could be the difference between choosing a package or basic.

Rate expectations

Banks will often give you a discounted rate for package loans. Market comparison platforms generally find that interest on average package loan products is between 0.25% and 0.5% lower than average standard variable rate loans.

That saving alone is more than enough to make up for the annual fees which can be higher than what you would be charged for a basic loan.

Unique borrowers can benefit

Flexibility is the key for borrowers such as property investors or the self-employed who want to free up cash flow and maximise future borrowing power. Features such as interest only repayments, line of credit and others will appeal to investors as long as they choose the package that suits their strategy, while credit cards and transaction accounts are useful to small business owners.

Break it down to the basics

So when would it be better to shun a package for a basic home loan? You may just want a simple, no frills home loan that you can quietly pay off. 

Basic loan products will likely offer you the low interest rates you want, but there may be loan features and loan flexibility that you may not realise you need.

 

 

Refinance-cash-rebates-What-you-need-to-know

Refinance Cash Rebates – What You Need to Know

A lot of banks seem to be offering cash incentives at the moment to tempt you to jump ship from your current lender and refinance with them.

Sums of between $1000 and $4000 are being offered up for borrowers that could use some extra funds in their account, with the added bonus of switching to (at least what they think) will be a better deal.

But just because they throw you a wad of cash, it doesn’t mean you’ll be better off over the long term… or even the short term.

Why do banks offer cash?

These incentive deals, nicknamed ‘cashback loans’, but actually known as refinance cash rebates, usually pop up in a competitive market for lenders. Banks need your money on their books and in times like these, when interest rates are so low, more people than ever want to be paying off a mortgage. It is also a time of unprecedented disruption in the mortgage space. Online only banks, second tier lenders and financial startups are emerging for a slice of the market. So banks need to stand out from their competitors.

At some point, banks came to the conclusion that offering cash was a good incentive. Maybe borrowers would be low on funds at the moment due to the strains of COVID, or would like the opportunity to pay off a bit of debt, or even buy something they need without having to use credit.

The survey says yes… sometimes

A recent study found that one in three borrowers were planning to refinance in the coming months. Of these, one in four surveyed would choose a cashback offer over a low interest rate. One in three millennials would opt for cash, but just one in 10 baby boomers.

Overall though, nearly half of the borrowers surveyed (46%) would opt for the lower interest rate over a cash rebate.

The good news for borrowers at the moment is that you may not have to choose one option or the other, because you can now get cash rebates on loans that already have super low interest rates.

What you should use the rebate for

The whole point of a rebate is that it is there to cover the costs of moving loans to another bank.

And there are quite a few costs involved. You will incur such expenses as government fees for discharge of title, discharge of mortgage, title registration, costs of title searches, settlement fees and solicitor documentation fees. If you go ahead and break a fixed rate mortgage term, you will also incur early exit fees.

So if you do opt for a loan with a cash rebate, don’t start planning your next holiday or big retail purchase without first covering off those costs.

Of course, putting that rebate straight back into your loan will save you even more when interest is taken into account.

For your consideration

While the rebates are usually enough to cover the costs of switching lenders, the savings made could dry up quickly if the loan is less flexible than your previous one, or if it doesn’t suit your specific needs.

Lower interest rates add up to significant savings over the life of a loan, usually much more than a few thousand dollars’ worth.

Of course, not many people these days choose a loan and stick with it for the full term – you may change homes a number of times – so if you refinance regularly, you can make good use of the incentives on offer at any given time.

Before you do take the plunge however, make sure you read the fine print. Most lenders will have a minimum loan amount that qualifies for the rebate. If you have a relatively small remaining balance on your loan, you may not qualify as it may not be worth their while to get you on board for a small amount only. Also, many of these deals are restricted to owner occupiers only, so if you are building an investment portfolio, you may not be eligible.

Independent financial advice will help you decide your best option.

 

 

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